How do inheritance rules work when a divorced person dies without a Will?

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How do inheritance rules work when a divorced person dies without a Will?

No Will has been found. Deceased’s ex-wife is named on all insurance policies. She is also co-signer on several mortgages with him. Deceased has 1 minor child with this ex-wife and 1 adult child with a previous ex-wife. Who inherits the properties? Who is liable for the mortgage debts on those properties?

Asked on June 22, 2012 under Estate Planning, Kentucky

Answers:

Brad Micklin / The Micklin Law Group

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, the mortgages will run with the property and must be satisfied by whomever inherits them.

There is no simple answer to this question. Insurance policies have named beneficiaries and are not considered probate property, which means they do not pass according to the terms of a person's will or the intestate statutes, which defines how property passes without a will. Insurance policies will normally pass to the person named as a beneficiary.

Normally, I would argue that the divorce, by operation of law, should revoke the beneficiary designation of the insurance policy and allow the proceeds to pass through his estate or the intestate statutes. However, the fact that the decedent continued to have properties and mortgages with his ex-wife could suggest it was his intention to leave her as a named beneficiary on these insurance policies because of these financial obligations.

You will need to file a petition with the court to have these issues resolved.


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